Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

What should I do if I Receive a Massachusetts Criminal Complaint in the Mail?

Well, kind of. If you opened your mail and found what you believe to be a criminal complaint, it is more likely a summons to appear in court for criminal allegations being made against you. The summons will either be for an arraignment or a clerk magistrate’s hearing. If it is for an arraignment, then you are being summoned to a formal reading of the criminal charges against you. At the arraignment, you will be expected to enter a plea. So, although the document you are holding in your hands is not an official “criminal complaint”, it functions as such.

It is a common misconception that these types of documents must be served in person, not through the mail. But the reality is, you can receive a summons in the mail. If you’ve recently found such a document in your mailbox, don’t fret. The initial communication is just step one. You have not been convicted of the offense, only charged. The summons will provide a date for you to appear in court for the arraignment or clerk magistrate’s hearing. Prior to that date, or at the actual arraignment, a lot can change. With the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, your chances of getting the complaint dismissed increase substantially. If, on the other hand, you attempt to proceed without representation, you may not like the outcome. Contact a Boston criminal defense lawyer today.

What Does the Summons Tell Me?

Summonses, which can and often do arrive by certified mail, list the following information:

  • The defendant
  • The date on which the alleged offense occurred
  • The alleged offenses and whether they are felonies or misdemeanors
  • Description of the alleged facts pertaining to each offense

When a summons is sent by certified mail, it is typically for misdemeanors and less-serious felonies. People don’t get charged with murder through the mail.

What to Do if You Receive a Summons in the Mail

  • Contact an experienced Boston criminal defense attorney immediately.
  • If you are being summoned to a clerk magistrate’s hearing, this is a step before the arraignment. The clerk magistrate will determine if there is probable cause to file a formal complaint. You should have representation here as well. If things don’t go well and you are arraigned, the situation can become complicated very quickly.
  • If you are being summoned to an arraignment, you have one last chance to defend yourself before the case goes to trial. Once again, if you have skilled legal representation, your chances of success are significantly greater. If the judge is convinced that the charges lack necessary evidence to file a complaint, you’ll at least buy yourself additional time. Sometimes, the charges are dropped altogether.

Whatever you do, don’t simply ignore the summons. Not appearing for your arraignment will not make it go away. Quite the contrary. If you ignore or forget the date, the court will likely issue a warrant for your arrest.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. Your freedom and reputation are our top priorities. We have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced or dismissed. If you are facing criminal charges for DUI, burglary, theft, assault, or drug possession, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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